Preparation Plan For Environment & Ecology- UPSC Prelims

Environment & Ecology Preparation

If there is one thing at the national and international level that has always remained in the limelight, it is the Environment. Environmental issues such as Global Warming, Climate Change, Pollution, Deforestation, Ocean Acidification etc., are always the major headlines in the News. These issues are impacting our lives in one way or another.

As an aspiring Civil Servant (IAS/IPS/IFS), having sound knowledge of this domain becomes essential as UPSC lays strong emphasis on Environment. This is the reason for its incorporation under the Prelims and Mains syllabus. One can and should anticipate Environment related questions in the Personality Test (Interview Round) also.

Hence, it becomes crucial to study the subject thoroughly during the UPSC exam preparation to gain valuable insights and to score good marks in the section. Through this article, we have tried to make the Environment and Ecology preparation simpler for you.

Read further to know more about it. Before we begin, let’s first understand the Environment syllabus at the Prelims and Mains level.

Environment Syllabus for UPSC Prelims & Mains

UPSC PrelimsGeneral Issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization.
UPSC MainsPaper IV General Studies III – Conservation, Environmental Pollution, and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

Also read: Explained: UPSC Syllabus and Exam Pattern 2021

Besides the topics mentioned above in the Environment syllabus, students should also focus on the following as UPSC had already asked Qs on these topics.

Quick Check List of Important Topics

ConservationWhat is Biodiversity?
Types of Biodiversity – Genetic, Species, Ecosystem, etc.
Importance of Biodiversity – Ecosystem Services, Bio-resources of Economic Importance, Social Benefits, etc.
Reasons for Loss of Biodiversity
Conservation: In-situ & Ex-Situ
Eco-Sensitive Areas
Ecological Hotspots
National Guidelines, Legislations & Other Programmes
International Agreements & Groupings
Environmental Pollution & Degradation Types of Pollution & Pollutants
Impact of Pollution & Degradation
Ozone Layer Depletion and Ozone Hole
Greenhouse Gas Effect & Global Warming
Acid Rain
Hazardous Waste, etc.
Causes/Sources of Pollution & Degradation
Prevention & Control of Pollution & Degradation
National Environment Agencies, Legislations and Policies
International Environment Agencies & Agreements
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)What is EIA?
Indian Guidelines & Legislations
EIA Process
Need & Benefits of EIA
Shortcomings of EIA in India
Measures to Make EIA Effective
Disaster Management Types of Disasters
Management of Disasters
Community Level Disaster Management & Government Initiatives on Disaster Management

Recommended Books for Environment Preparation

  • Ecology and Environment by PD Sharma
  • 12th Standard NCERT Book on Biology (It has chapters related to Ecology)
  • India Year Book (Chapters on Environment)
  • Climate Change Chapter from Economic Survey
  • Objective Environmental Science by B.B Singh (Objective)

Preparation Plan for Cracking Environment & Ecology

It has been observed that the UPSC is constantly giving a significant weightage to the Environment Section. If we analyze the past three years’ Prelims Question papers, many questions have been asked from this section in the exam. 25 questions were asked in the 2020 Prelims paper, 20 questions were there in the 2019 paper, and 11 Environment and Ecology questions were in the 2018 Prelims Paper.

Hence, effective preparation for the subject becomes imperative. Moreover, there is a remarkable overlap of the Environment syllabus with Geography, Economy, Science and Technology, as well as Current Affairs. Follow the below-listed tips to prepare for the Environment subject effectively:

# Tip 1 Since the subject is strongly linked to Current Affairs, read a newspaper daily (The Hindu/The Indian Express) and carefully analyze the environment news, articles/editorials.

Read more: How to Read Newspaper for UPSC Civil Services Preparation?

# Tip 2 During your preparation, make sure to refer to the previous year question papers to understand the exam pattern and the type of questions asked in the exam.

# Tip 3 By doing so, you will be able to organize your preparation by emphasizing more on topics that have more marks weightage.

# Tip 4 Refer to NCERT books, Biology (Last Unit), for a basic understanding of Environmental & Ecology topics and better preparation.

# Tip 5 While going through the study material, make notes. It will expedite your preparation.

Pro Tip: Visit government websites like PIB, to stay updated with the latest news. You should also check the websites of national and international organizations related to the Environment and Biodiversity.

Environment and Ecology Questions in 2020 UPSC Prelims Paper

Q 1. Which of the following are the reasons/factors for exposure to benzene pollution?

1. Automobile exhaust

2. Tobacco smoke

3. Wood burning

4. Using varnished wooden furniture

5. Using products made of polyurethane

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Answer: D

Q 2. With reference to Indian elephants, consider the following statements:

1. The leader of an elephant group is a female

2. The maximum gestation period can be 22 months

3. An elephant can normally go on calving till the age of 40 years only

4. Among the States in India, the highest elephant population is in Kerala

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 4 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 3 and 4 only

Answer: A

Q 3. Which of the following Protected Areas are located in the Cauvery basin?

1. Nagarhole National Park

2. Papikonda National Park

3. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

4. Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 and 4 only

(c) 1, 3 and 4 only

(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Answer: C

Q 4. With reference to India’s biodiversity, Ceylon Frogmouth, Coppersmith Barbet, Gray Chinned Minivet and White-throated Redstart are:

(a) Birds

(b) Primates

(c) Reptiles

(d) Amphibians

Answer: A

Q 5. Which one of the following protected areas is well-known for the conservation of a sub-species of the Indian swamp deer (Barasingha) that thrives well on hard ground and is exclusively graminivorous?

(a) Kanha National Park

(b) Manas National Park

(c) Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary

(d) Tal Chhapar Wildlife Sanctuary

Answer: A

Q 6. Which of the following are the most likely places to find the musk deer in its natural habitat?

1. Askot Wildlife Sanctuary

2. Gangotri National Park

3. Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary

4. Manas National Park

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 and 4 only

(d) 1 and 4 only

Answer: A

Q 7. In rural road construction, the use of which of the following is preferred for ensuring environmental sustainability or to reduce carbon footprint?

1. Copper slag

2. Cold mix asphalt technology

3. Geotextiles

4. Hot mix asphalt technology

5. Portland cement

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 3 only

(b) 2, 3 and 4 only

(c) 4 and 5 only

(d) 1 and 5 only

Answer: A

Q 8. Steel slag can be the material for which of the following?

1. Construction of base road

2. Improvement of agricultural soil

3. Production of cement

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

Q 9. Consider the following statements:

1. Coal ash contains arsenic, lead and mercury.

2. Coal-fired power plants release sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen into the environment.

3. High ash content is observed in Indian coal.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

Q 10. What is the use of biochar in farming?

1. ‘Biochar can be used as a part of the growing medium in vertical farming.

2. When biochar is a part of the growing medium, it promotes the growth of nitrogen fixing microorganisms.

3. When biochar is a part of the growing- medium, it enables the growing medium to retain water for longer time.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

If you are currently preparing for Environment and Ecology and want free lectures along with well-researched study material to clear the UPSC Prelims, you can download the PrepLadder app. It is an excellent source of quality and reliable learning material for UPSC aspirants and has everything you need to ace the Civil Services Exam on one single platform. 

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Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.